On average, adults spend over 10 hours a day looking at screens or interacting with media. That's almost over half one's waking hours. This necessarily leads to the question of how this affects individuals. Multiple recent studies have found a correlation between cell phone usage and emotional health.
Mental illness has become a more important issue as rates of depression and anxiety have shot up in the past decade, and we know might know why. One of these studies following over 300 college students reported that, ". . . heavier technology use was tied to greater risk for anxiety and depression, particularly among those using the devices as a "security blanket" -- to avoid dealing with unpleasant experiences or feelings."
Not only can cell phone usage become addictive and habit forming, but we begin to rely on it when we're trying to avoid something. Furthermore, excessive use of social media can increase the risk of both depression and anxiety.
The solution is to become conscious of your behavior and to catch yourself reaching for your technology. When participating in social media, make a conscious effort to avoid comparing yourself to others. Focus on your strengths and your true friends. It can be hard to leave certain habits and thought processes behind, but as you focus on filling your life with what you truly value and appreciate, you'll feel less of a need to seek out that satisfaction with social media and technology. (Read more about how being outside is healthy for both your brain and body by checking out our post: Why Our Brains Love Being Outside)
Next time you reach for you phone, ask yourself the following questions:
Why I am reaching for my technology right now?
Am I reaching for this device to avoid, cope with, or reject my emotions?
Am I avoiding something?
If so, how could I deal with it in a more effective way?
Is there something more productive I can do right now to break my detrimental technology habits and connect back to myself?
If I truly need a break and to destress, what could I do that would be help me fully relax or that would rejuvenate me?
Remember when creating change in our lives it is a journey and a process. Be kind to yourself and reinforce good behaviors by mentally patting yourself on the back when you notice you're moving in the right direction. Be sure to celebrate when you reach bigger milestones like consistently going without your phone for long periods of time.
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